A Tiara for a Dragon Queen

I’ve been playing around with beads and charms, making some shiny trinkets to take to Romancing the Capital in August. I decided to try to make a tiara fit for a dragon queen.

Here’s my first attempt.

Bead and crystal tiara made by Deborah Cooke

I used a metal hairband as a frame. The crystals are dyed quartz and have been drilled, which made it a lot easier to secure them in place. I used 24 gauge wire for the wrapping. I arranged the crystals in order of size first, with the biggest ones in the center, then attached them to the frame. Once they were in place, I added glass beads of various shapes and sizes.

Detail of bead and crystal tiara made by Deborah Cooke

The result is quite sparkly. What do you think?

I’ve also been making some necklaces with gemstone beads, using wire. Here’s one of Dragon’s Eye Agate, with matching earrings:

Necklace and earrings of dragon's eye agate and beads by Deborah Cooke

And here’s one of Fire Agate – the agate has been dyed to enhance the colour, but it is quite spectacular. The black beads are onyx:

Fire agate necklace and earrings made by Deborah Cooke

I’ve been making earrings, too. Here’s a selection with the fun dragon claw drops:

Dragon claw drop earrings with glass beads made by Deborah Cooke

I’m going to make another tiara in different colours – if not two – and will show you them when they’re done.

What do you think? Would you or your favorite dragon queen wear any of these?

Star Soup

This year, I’m trying to finish up all the knitting I have in progress, before casting on anything new. I have a LOT on the go, so this is going to take a while. (I also have very little discipline when it comes to knitting and keep casting on more projects, but that’s another challenge. The rationale is that I’m stash-busting.)

My current focus is a circular shawl in gradient-dyed yarn. Let’s talk about that today.

Once upon a time (way back in 2012), a designer created a circular knitted shawl that was essentially a map of the heavens. For every star visible above in the northern hemisphere, there’s a hole and a bead in the shawl. The pattern is called Celestarium. (Subsequently, she did one for the southern hemisphere called Southern Skies.) This is a pretty cool pattern, IMO, and qualifies as geek knitting. There are over 1000 Celestarium shawl projects on Ravelry, if you have some time to browse. Almost 600 of them are completed.

Some time after that, Earthfaire created a kit for the shawl, featuring gradient-dyed yarn from the Unique Sheep and crystal beads. Here’s the product page for the kit, although they don’t have any more.

I did get a kit when they were available, although it’s been waiting on me for a while. (Stash must age before use, you know.) The colourway is called Twilight. Mine shades from purple through to deep blue black. (You could choose to have it shade the other way – the last shade is the biggest skein and is for the border.) This is the same yarn base as my BitterBlue shawl – it’s a merino and tussah silk blend called Luxe. I really like this yarn, probably because I really like raw silk. It also doesn’t have the seracin smell that some silk yarn has, which I really really really dislike.

I’ve been knitting on my Celestarium for quite a while now. It has a lot of plain knitting, with the occasional star – which stands to reason. Even on a starry night, there’s more sky than stars! The charts are huge because there are no repeats: the final chart prints on eight sheets of paper, which then are taped together lengthwise to show the rows.

This is not TV knitting.

Here’s a star:Celestarium shawl knitted by Deborah CookeSee the little hole to the left of that middle bead? This is from the part closer to the middle of the shawl, where it’s more purple.

(Mr. Math has found a pun for this one, btw. When I drop a bead, he calls it a falling star. When I find it, he asks if I’ve caught a fallen star. Of course, he then advises me to put it in my pocket and save it for a rainy day.)

Round shawls that increase in diameter at a regular rate are called pi-shawls, and are based upon a design by Elizabeth Zimmerman. (My Urdr shawl was another of these.) What happens is that the number of stitches doubles at set intervals, which creates circular bands of the same stitch count. Clever designers make magic happen in these bands. When knitting a pi-shawl, I find that the first few charts are done really quickly, then the stitch count gets high enough to slow me down. The Celestarium shawl is knitted with fingering weight yarn, so the final chart has 576 stitches in each round. (The Urdr shawl was knit in lace weight, so the stitch count doubled one more time on that one.)

I’ve finished the body of the shawl, knit some extra rounds around the outside and am now knitting the border. I chose a traditional Shetland border called Wave Lace. It’ll look much better blocked, but here it is, still bunched up on the needles, but stretched out a little bit on the rug.Celestarium shawl knitted by Deborah CookeI actually pulled two stitches off the needle accidentally when taking this shot. =8-o

800 rows of border to go, then it’ll get a good block. I’m looking forward to seeing it then – blocking lace is magical.

What do you think?

Those Wyrd Sisters

I was going to tell you about a new shawl project today, but instead, I’m going to show you another one that I finally finished. (Yay!) That post about the new project has been bumped to next Friday.

When I was writing the Dragon Diaries, I did a lot of research on the Wyrd sisters in Norse mythology, also called the Norns (or sometimes the Nairns). These three immortals decide the fate of all living beings – in the myths, they’re spinners, but in Zoë’s books, they’re knitters too. Around about the same time, I was intrigued to discover that a knitting designer had created a trio of shawls to celebrate these three sisters. I had this idea that I’d knit them all to commemorate the publication of Zoë’s story.

I finally cast on in 2013.

I did finish the first one, Verdandi, pretty quickly. Verdandi is the sister who governs the present, so I called my project “Is”. This is a triangular shawl, and I knit mine in Fleece Artist Nyoni. This mohair, wool, silk and nylon blend is discontinued (so that’s a Ravelry link), which is too bad because it’s a scrumptious yarn. I still have a bit in the stash in another green colour. 🙂

The post about my completed Verdandi is right here.

Then I cast on the second shawl, Urdr. Urdr is the sister who governs the past, so my project is called “Was”. That was in September 2013. This is a huge round shawl knit in very fine laceweight yarn. The idea behind the design is that this shawl is supposed to represent the well at the root of the world tree, Yggdrasil, which the sisters tend. I used a gradient colourway from the Unique Sheep called Brigid, which made me think of copper cauldrons and ancient goddesses. (You can see Brigid on this page of the Gradiance colourways. It’s in the middle of the fourth row. Mine didn’t look quite like this sample, but each base yarn takes colour differently. Mine was very teal at the one end and quite a warm grey gold at the other with no mauve or blue bits—actually it has colours like the two middle skeins in the sample.) The base yarn is Ling, which is a silk and merino blend.

Knitting this shawl became a bit of a slog, as the rows at the end had more than 1200 stitches, and I added rows to use more of the yarn. Also, knitted lace looks like nothing until it’s blocked. I was losing heart because I had what looked like a lump in my lap each time I picked up the needles. I told Mr. Math about two weeks ago that I had to finish it, and he said “What’s the rush? You’ll just cast on another one.” Such was my mood that I wasn’t so sure of that. Maybe this would be The Last Shawl.

I should have anticipated that blocking would change everything. it’s such a magical process. Imagine my surprise when my lump stretched out to look like this:

Urdr1

It’s at least six feet in diameter and so lovely that I can’t stop looking at it. The yarn is dyed in gradients, which means that there are six skeins in the set, and you change from one to the next as you knit.

Here’s a detail shot, after blocking, on the couch. You can see the colours better in this shot, although IRL, the gradation is more subtle and the middle is less blue than it looks here:

Urdr2It’s supposed to have nupps (which are little knitted knots) but I don’t like knitting nupps so I put beads in those places instead. Because I didn’t make nupps, I used less yarn. I wanted to have the entire gradation of colour, though, so I added repeats to the border. I also added more beads to the outside edge. Details are on my Ravelry project page.

It was totally worth it, and I’m ready to cast on another shawl, if not two! I’ll tell you next week about my nerd knit in that raw silk and merino blend (in another gradient colourway from the Unique Sheep, also with beads). There’s also the third Wyrd sister’s shawl to knit. It’s called Skuld, for the third sister who controls the future. My project will be named “Might Be” and I have some lovely Fleece Artist yarn set aside for it. I’m going to try to be good, though, and finish the lace stole that’s on my needles and only one third knitted before casting on another. (Ha.)

What do you think of my Urdr?

That BitterBlue Shawl

I told you a while back about a shawl I was knitting in gradient colours, following a pattern called BitterBlue. Well, now it’s done and I’m very happy with it. Because I chose not to block it, it’s between a large scarf and a small shawl in size. Blocking would make the points stand out more on the border and would make it larger, but I like how scrunchy the garter stitch is. Plus I just love the colours.

Here it is:

BitterBlue shawl knitted by Deborah Cooke I did make some changes to the pattern – some planned and some inadvertent user errors – and you can read about those on my Ravelry project page, right here. The base yarn is really nice, and I realized that I have another kit from Earthfaire in the stash that came with the same yarn. I caked up the yarn for that project up, and will tell you about it next week.

What do you think of this one?